August 2006

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The First Time Parasailing

'I Like It When Mama Has Fun!'

By Jane Lemon Mott

I brought the photo into work. "You? Parasail?" "Sure! Why not?" was my reply. Middle age, over weight and athletically challenged is obviously not the picture my co-workers had had of someone who would enjoy parasailing. But enjoy it I did.
It was 1994. My husband, son, daughter-in-law, and I were strolling along the waterfront at Elliot Bay in Seattle. We had just seen our 17-year-old daughter/sister off on a flight to Germany and wanted to spend a little time in the salt air before going back over the mountains to Eastern Washington.

My husband (the "fun one" of our 36-year partnership) spots the sign first - "Experience Parasailing" or something to that effect. It wasn't an instant "Oh, boy!" for me! Being the person I am, parasailing was way off my radar for fun stuff.

Although, a bit more conservative than the rest of the family, I am, at heart, a good sport, so after the a few minutes of family pressure, I softened to the idea, and the adventure began.

The first thing that I want you to know is that I had never even been in an airplane at this point in my life. I had a fear of heights and a fear that they wouldn't have a life jacket big enough for me.

All the cards for a good time were definitely stacked against me. The cards that I did have in my favor ended up winning the game for me.

The company running the excursion had everything in place to make this a positive experience for everyone. First, their permits and licenses were clearly posted at the ticket counter.

That, plus the safety information, equipment, and friendly professionalism of the crew, all came together to give even me a sense of confidence that allowed me to take that first step down the ramp. The boat was beautiful and powerful.

The life vests were new with a lot of good "meets-standards" tags on them. The harnesses were in great shape; straps, connectors, tow rope all looked good. OK, I can do this!

My son and his wife were the first to go up. There was a tandem harness available so they went together to share the experience.

As they stood on the launch deck, the chute filled with air, and they were gently lifted up and away. I watch the driver of the boat as he guided the craft with confidence and caution, both of which are needed in the water traffic on Elliot Bay.

I was getting more and more comfortable. Even though I am not an adventurist, I have always loved the feel of a powerboat accelerating and the feel of the air that is over water rushing past my face and through my hair.

I was really feeling good about this parasailing now! As the first of our rides came to an end and the duo were brought back onto the "launch pad," I was amazed by how smooth and easy this all looked.

Still, it was with a great deal of apprehension as I, being second to go, donned the harness and stepped up to the back of the boat. At this point in my story, I can best continue to relate my experience in a present-tense, stream-of-consciousness monologue.

As I continue, consider what I have already told you about myself above, and here we go.

"Please God, don't let this last too long!" "I hope the boat can get going fast enough to get me up." "It's too late to stop now." "Can the chute fail?" "Whoooaaa! I'm up!" "That was really easy." "This is really cool." "How can it be so slow and peaceful up here when it is seems so fast and exciting down there?" "I love this." "Ah, is it over already?" "I hope that guy on the boat is strong enough to help me land." "Oh shoot, I'm going to knock that guy over." "Whoooaa! I'm down! These guys are good."

"Look at those smiles, I think they enjoyed my flight as much as I did. Everyone likes it when Mama has fun!"

My husband had the third and final ride. The guys gave him a little more time and a little more excitement by lowering him down to the water and raising him back up a few times.

His type of ride would be more to the liking of most of you readers, but for me? I am grateful to the crew who took great care to be sure I had the best experience possible for a coward, and I did!

That adventure was 12 years ago and I still love the memory of it. The office crowd to this day thinks that I dubbed myself into the photo, but it's what I have in my head that matters to me.

I went parasailing and I loved it. Something I thought I would never do is now something I would love to do again.

After all, I, too, really like it when Mama has fun!